Clinical research at the Center is a reflection of the care that we provide to our patients.
Through our research, we hope to develop new improvements to the services we offer and discover new ways to help you reach your greatest potential.
Activity-Based Restorative Therapy (and Electrical Stimulation)
Electrical stimulation is a key component of our activity-based restorative therapy program. Electrodes are placed on specific muscle groups by a skilled therapist. Those electrodes are connected to a machine that sends an electrical signal, which cause muscles to contract. Electrical stimulation is used to practice specific tasks, increase or maintain range of motion, and prevent muscle loss. Our research in this area has focused on studying the impact, effectiveness, and optimal protocols for functional electrical stimulation (FES) and activity-based restorative therapy, as well as transcutaneous spinal cord stimulation and its impact on physical and neurological function.
Aquatic therapy is a popular program at the Center and we have seen firsthand the potential benefits of aquatic therapy for our patients. In the pool, you are able to escape the limitations of gravity and can perform tasks that are difficult or impossible over land. By practicing these tasks in the water, we hope to improve your strength and eventually help you to accomplish performing these tasks on land. Aquatic therapy research focuses on studying and quantifying the impact of aquatic therapy on functional and health-related quality of life outcomes among individuals with paralysis and comparing this to land therapy outcomes.
Everyone who has experienced paralysis has undergone an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) at least once. At the center we study an advanced imaging process called functional MRI (fMRI) that can produce maps of neuronal activity at most levels of the spinal cord in response to various stimuli (i.e. touch, vibration, temperature changes, etc.) and with motor tasks. These images can help us to study how these circuits of neuronal activity change after traumatic spinal cord injury and after implementation of an activity-based therapy program, in order to understand how different treatment options can be best utilized to maximize patient recovery.
Complications of Spinal Cord Injury and Paralysis
Spinal cord injury and paralysis are widely known to cause what are called “secondary complications,” such as pressure sores, urological conditions, spasticity, pain, and osteoporosis. These are common complaints for many people with spinal cord injury or dysfunction. We believe that it is important to study the prevalence of these common complications, their individual causes and risk factors, their impact on community engagement and quality of life, and prevention of these complications.
The center believes that adaptive sports and recreation can be integral to recovery and quality-of-life. For many of you, sports and recreation were a regular part of your lives prior to injury or diagnosis and we believe that everyone should have the same opportunities even after a disability. Our researchers are studying the use of virtual reality adaptive sporting as a training method and the impact of adaptive sporting on both rehabilitation outcomes and overall quality of life.